August 2017
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Phoenix Bar and Chapel of the Black Madonna, A Place That Matters

phoenix barPhoenix Bar and the former Chapel of the Black Madonna, at 447 E. 13th St., East Village, Manhattan. When Sicilian immigrants came together in 1905 on E. 13th St. to celebrate their first public feast in honor of their hometown’s spiritual patroness–the black Madonna del Tindari–this was called the Lower East Side, not the East Village, and the area around 1st Ave. was heavily Italian. In 1913, having formed a society and commissioned a statue of the Madonna and Child, the group secured a storefront space and created a chapel and social club. black madonnaFor decades the society sponsored a festa on E. 13th St., only dissolving the organization in 1987. Today, the Phoenix Bar stands on the spot. A new generation of Italian Americans has taken to gathering at the bar every September 8th–the Madonna’s feast day–to reclaim the Black Madonna as a potent symbol of an inclusive spirituality. Everybody is welcome. Read the new profile about the chapel by Joseph Sciorra on the PlaceExplorer. Find more by Sciorra on this topic in the Voices journal. Visit and shop where the First Ave. Italians used to go: DeRobertis Caffe (176 1st Ave.); Veniero’s Pasticceria & Caffe (342 E. 11th St.); and Russo’s Mozzarella & Pasta (344 E. 11th).